Healthy eating is a definite trend these days, as more and more people – particularly parents – focus on providing balanced nutrition for themselves and their families. Food manufacturers understand this trend and have responded with various catch words and key phrases that lure the health-conscious eye.
But is what you’re buying really all that healthy? Here are three common label sightings that don’t always mean as much as the food industry wants you to think they mean.
All-Natural: On the one hand, saying something is “all natural” these days is a big plus because so many foods are made with artificial ingredients and/or chemicals. If you want something that’s truly all-natural, food with this label will fit the bill. However, keep in mind that just because something is “all natural” doesn’t mean it’s particularly healthy in terms of fat, calorie, sugar or sodium content. You can make cookies with all-natural ingredients – primarily sugar, butter and white flour – but you’ll be consuming a whole lot of fat and sugar, and very little in the way of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Sugar Free: Speaking of sugar, we live in a sugar-conscious world where artificial sweeteners rule the day and few people realize what they’re consuming. Sugar-free diet sodas are the perfect example; people guzzle gallon upon gallon of the stuff every year, oblivious to evidence suggesting that artificial sweeteners are a) potentially dangerous, because in many cases they’ve been chemically altered / produced; and b) may still contribute to weight gain by stimulating the eating response. Moreover, many items labeled “sugar free” are also nutrient free. You might not be getting any real sugar, but you aren’t getting much of anything else to fuel your body, either.
Per Serving: This is perhaps the most deceptive label out there because people see “only 100 calories per serving” or “only 3 grams of fat per serving” and grab the food off the shelf without a thought. Potato chips and crackers often list relatively low fat / calorie counts per serving; but each serving is a mere 5-6 chips or crackers. Anyone you know eat only 5-6 chips or crackers at a single sitting? The average eater may work their way through triple or quadruple that amount, providing 3-4 times the servings – and 3-4 times the fat and calories.
The lesson here is to always read food labels thoroughly, do research when necessary so you know what you’re buying / eating, and talk to your doctor of chiropractic for advice on how to pursue a healthy, balanced diet that gives you the nutrition your body needs.
* Dr. Denny does a great presentation on this topic to groups around San Francisco. Contact our office if you’d like her to speak to your group.